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Drunk haka Waitangi tradition for London Kiwis

Sunday 3 Feb 2013 4:29 p.m.

Getting drunk and doing the haka outside Westminster has become an annual rite of passage for many Kiwis on their OE.

The Waitangi celebration has drawn criticism from many who say it damages Kiwis' reputation overseas.

But it's an event London police say they actually look forward to.

It wasn't exactly the weather for Waitangi, but the bitter cold was no challenge for the Kiwis.

“We are legends in the world,” says Kiwi expat Mark Dudfield. “Why not announce it?”

So announce it they did outside the houses of Parliament – a patch of land claimed by the Kiwis for an early Waitangi Day celebration.

“We're just out to celebrate being Kiwis in London,” says Kiwi expat Bryce Pettitt. “It's not a debate like it is back in New Zealand, just about celebrating being Kiwis together.”

Some looked to have celebrated a little harder than others. There were plenty of “Minties Moments”, and some who tried to take it a step too far.

But police say they had no major problems with the crowd.

“The crowd here have been fantastic, absolutely fantastic,” says Inspector Bruce Middlemiss. “There aren't many nations that can have 5000 people on a pub crawl and have no arrests. There's been no use of violence that we're aware of. It's been extremely good natured and New Zealanders should be very proud of themselves I think.”

In fact, Insp Middlemiss says many officers actually look forward to Waitangi Day and volunteer to work it.

“Obviously you don't want to get out of control because you give them a little bit more respect,” says Kiwi expat Jonathan Drew. “You’re a bit worried about keeping up the Kiwi culture here. We’re representing and they respect that, so it’s fantastic.”

But while the London Kiwis hope to have left a good impression, they also leave behind a bit of litter from the revelling.

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